Pro Tip: Dressing Thrift Without Looking Like a Walking Thrift Store
Originally published on www.thriftingwithvee.com on July 9, 2015
I’m flattered by the response I’ve received since starting this blog. Thank you, dear readers. Several of you have provided me with suggestions for future posts many of which include advice for thrifting and style. These things come very natural to me (thank you Grandmother Frances) so I don’t typically think too hard about them. In asking me your questions though, I’ve been forced to pause and consider the internal processes I use when shopping for and putting together an outfit. As it turns out there are some basic rules I use for myself that you may also find helpful.
7 Tips for Thrifting Without Looking (or smelling) like a Thrift Store
1. Fit is key. Bodies are different shapes and sizes and that is a beautiful thing! I think most of us know by trying something on if it looks good and feels good. I personally steer clear of tops that are made for bustier ladies and keep a special eye out for high-waisted skirts that hug my hips just right. Your rules for fit could be much different from mine. If you find yourself unsure of an item fitting you well, bring a friend shopping, or just ask a stranger at the store (sometimes they are more honest). In addition, here are a few online resources I found for further guidance: 1. shopsmart.org 2. howclothesshouldfit.com 3. whowhatwear.com
2. Material should be in good shape. Check for fading and stretching. Nothing says, “Hey, I got this at a smelly old thrift store” more than a faded black shirt with a stretched out neckline! Also check for pilling (although there are ways to fix that).
3. Check for stains and holes. Arm pit stains in light-colored shirts are THE WORST (especially if they’re someone else’s pit stains) Often, holes can be fixed but be sure you’re committed to doing so before making the purchase.
4. Smell it. Seriously (especially if it’s vintage). Most of the time you can get the smell out but I’ve bought vintage items that after 10 washes still smell like grandma perfume and moth balls. If it smells heavily of these scents, consider leaving it on the rack.
5. Check that zippers and buttons are all intact. Again, you can often fix these things, but just be prepared to do the work. I once bought a sweater that had 3 missing buttons. I ended up adding 3 fun mismatched buttons to replace them and I get compliments on that jacket all the time.
6. Don’t pay attention to the price tag until AFTER you try it on. (If you shop at Goodwill they have a weekly tag color sale. Ignore this too.) This will encourage you to only try on items that fit the above criteria first rather than talking yourself into something only because it’s extra cheap. This is a Jedi-mind trick, really.
7. Face the truth. Sometimes certain things are just better to buy new. Underwear and socks are obvious. Plain t-shirts and other basics are good to purchase new too. Personally, I buy most of my jeans new, it’s just easier to find the right fit. A few months ago I was desperate to find the perfect little black cardigan. I searched at about 4 different thrift stores before deciding it was better to go to Nordstrom Rack and buy one for $20 (the Rack ALWAYS has cardigans in like 35 different colors!!). Time is money, as they say. And sometimes the ease of not having to hunt for the bargain just makes life easier.